global contracting difficult as you grow.
Can you elaborate?
Berall: [Such legislation] makes the sharing
and storage of any personal data difficult,
even within an organization. When involving third-party partners like a TMC or other
vendors, this brings on an entirely new responsibility of data storage and protection
of the personal data. It’s a working headache
and an absolute hindrance to getting some
of these global initiatives out. Unfortunately,
part of it is wait-and-see over the next six
months to a year.
Q Are there travel program- implementation challenges as
Math Works grows in Asia/Pacific
Berall: Some hurdles with those locations
are how to push those same guidelines to
a smaller office or [how to] account for
cultural differences in policy. How do we
bring a new location to our travel agency
or self-booking platform? [Additionally],
how do you balance that startup mind-set
with becoming a much more established
and global organization? How do you
maintain that adaptability that comes with
that tech startup feel?
Q David, you’ve mentioned a similar challenge in traveler experience as a
Wieseneck: As we grow, employees see finance
as the department that brings on the bureaucracy and changes a startup to a corporate
hell’s gate. That’s always my biggest concern
with putting in a control, a process or a system:
How can I do it so that it’s minimally invasive,
so they look at us as a partner that’s finding
them better ways to get their job done?
Q How do you manage that?
Wieseneck: We want to make travelers’
lives easy. If I’m going to ask them for
something like filling out a timely expense
report, I’m also giving back by taking line
items off the reports. We buy their plane
tickets through our trusted third-party
agent and have our office managers book
hotels for travelers. Big expenses are cen-
tralized, and we can dictate certain poli-
cies like business travel versus premium
economy and the hotel level. It’s not up to
the employee to figure out whether they’re
in policy or not. Their expense reports now
are just meals and snacks at the airport.
Q What else are you doing to control spend and simplify processes for travelers?
Wieseneck: We [also] signed up for centralized company billing for Uber, Lyft and
Airbnb, as we know our travelers like to
use them. It’s also a risk management thing,
as Uber can track someone and if you lose
a computer it’s much easier to get it back
[from Uber] than a regular taxi. We’re also
giving back by reimbursing them [quickly].
Q Judy, you’ve got 800 mostly U.S.- based travelers and 100 travelers
based in Australia, New Zealand, Canada,
Germany, France and Ireland. How do you
position your travel program?
Payne: We have a responsibilities-and-
controls policy, which basically states you
should use [the company] money like it’s
yours and be frugal in all areas. We ask ev-
eryone to book between 14 and 30 days out
to get the best cost in flights. We also have
a lowest-available-cost clause in our policy,
and we ask travelers to minimize last-minute
changes. I’d rather someone book seven days
out instead of changing the flight seven days
before [to avoid] incurring $200 to $300 plus
the additional airfare cost. We also ask travel-
ers to use a three-hour [flexibility] window on
their flight times because leaving an hour and
a half earlier or later [often] reduces the ticket
cost. We ask that travelers secure a one-stop
or connecting flight in lieu of a nonstop flight
if they can save at least $250, but [the lay-
over] has to be less than 90 minutes.
Q Your international airfare policy is interesting. Tell us about it.
Payne: [For international flights], if you
book 21 days in advance, you’re eligible for
business class. However, for the past four
years, [we’ve offered] travelers a $500 compensation if they save the company money
by flying coach. We see a significant savings
… probably $35,000 to $50,000 annually.
Q Do most travelers take the incentive?
Payne: About half. Usually the ones who
don’t travel internationally often take advantage of it. Our true road warriors want
business class. We [also] make sure the
road warriors are comfortable and enjoy
their travel, so they can keep all of their air,
hotel and car points.
Q Besides relying on traveler modera- tion, what other tactics do you use to
keep costs down?
Payne: Since we don’t have enough spend
to get company discounts, we [also] take
advantage of the corporate point programs
offered by airlines like American, Delta
Q Jeff, how do you use traveler rewards or other tactics to mitigate travel
spend while expanding?
Berall: It’s all about balancing the cost containment and cost avoidance with as positive a travel experience as we can provide.
It may not be a business class ticket, but it’ll
be premium economy. Or it maybe not be a
five-star hotel, but it’ll be a three- or four-star hotel. We really look to our travelers to
spend money as if it’s their own and make
smart spending decisions.
“We want to make travelers’ lives easy. If I’m going to ask them
for something like filling out a timely expense report, I’m also
giving back by taking line items off the reports.”
—LETGO’S DAVID WIESENECK
“I’d rather someone book seven days out instead of changing
the flight seven days before [to avoid] incurring $200 to $300
plus the additional cost in airfare.”
—GAMESTOP’S JUDY PAYNE